Two activities Wednesday morning on the campus of the University of Alabama commemorated the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States.
At 8 a.m., students belonging to the University of Alabama Young Americans For Freedom chapter began planting 2,977 small American flags on the Quad between the Denny Chimes and the Gorgas Library. Each flag represented a life lost in the attacks.
Simultaneously in Coleman Coliseum, first responders and associated emergency service providers and support groups along with military personnel from the university and the community began the Memorial Stair Climb. They made eight and a half loops up and down the stairs inside the coliseum until they had achieved the equivalent of 110 stories, the same number of stairs in the World Trade Center's twin towers.
Sgt. Rachel Grooms of the University of Alabama Police Department founded the event in 2018. Her father had been a firefighter and she was moved to honor the sacrifices of the many firefighters, police officers and emergency medical technicians who perished while trying to save lives 18 years ago in the World Trade Center.
“I feel it’s very important that we continue to remember because there are students that we have here that don’t know about it or it didn’t really affect or impact them in a sense that they are even aware of. I think it’s something in our history that we need to make sure we honor and remember,” Grooms said.
The university expected between 300 and 500 participants in the stair climb memorial.
Joseph Ballard, the chapter president for the University of Alabama Young Americans for Freedom, said, “We really consider it an honor to come out here and commemorate the lives lost on that tragic day in New York and around the country. We view it as a privilege to live in the United States and to live in a country that allows us the freedom of expression, freedom of speech, of freedom in general. So this is a small token of our appreciation to the first responders and those that lost their lives and is a reminder of what happened. A lot of these kids out here were not even alive when 9/11 happened but it still has had such an impact on our lives, on our generation so it's really great to get the opportunity to give back to the community with this demonstration and this display.”
The University of Alabama is one of more than 200 campuses around the nation that display the flags on the 9/11 anniversary to remember the victims of the terror attacks.